Monday, August 27, 2012

How-To Review: A Double Feature

I hope you had a pleasant weekend!  I'm still enjoying mine (which was crazy on Saturday and meant that le husband and I spent yesterday and today at home, lounging between bouts of housework) and thought I'd surprise you by doing *two* reviews in one!

Today's books are:

How to Draw Cartoons by Brian Platt

and A Year of Questions: How to Slow Down and Fall in Love with Life by Fiona Robyn

The first book, How to Draw Cartoons was labeled: "this book will help the complete novice turn out professional looking cartoon in minutes".  I was intrigued.  It was also a free book and that always influences my decision.

The nice thing about the book was that the label proved true -- I (a complete novice) was able to amp up my cartoon abilities quite a bit by trying out some of his tips and tricks.  I have since scribbled down a few characters and people seem to like them.

The problem with this book is that it doesn't cater to anyone's unique style.  It shows you how to draw one style of cartoon -- the old, plain, easily recognizable 'simple' cartoon, and doesn't give you room to grow beyond it.

So, if you don't draw, this might be a good book for you -- you can learn the parlor trick of quickly sketching out a little guy or girl holding a cocktail.  But if you'd like to do more, I recommend finding some tutorials online -- particularly about physiology (learning to draw around a skeleton form, or paying attention to muscle structure, etc.) or details like eyes, hands, and feet.  (there are several free tutorials on that are very helpful without cramping your style -- just adapt their tools to fit you)

A Year of Questions: How to Slow Down and Fall in Love with Life was a much better book -- although the author comes from a distinct spiritual background (which is very different from mine), she is brilliant at ensuring it isn't the centerpiece of the book -- it complements her writing but doesn't intrude and so the book allows for everyone to be able to use it.

What I deeply appreciated was the fact that you can dip into it from time to time (it is divided by season) or you can read it all at once -- which I did because it was so helpful.  The questions at the end of the little vignettes were slow, careful proddings into the conscious, and helped me think about the time I need to spend with myself in order for me to be healthy -- processing emotions, paying attention to how events are affecting me, and learning to be still and enjoy the sun on my face or the wind in my hair.

A lot of wisdom is shared through the book, and it was definitely helped by Fiona's heritage -- she's from the British Isles and you can tell -- the crisp, professional tone she uses, the vocabulary (delightful), and her polite, gentle affirmation of the need for self-reflection, quiet time, and time off.

I'll be re-reading this again once fall hits, in hopes of discovering more about falling in love with my life.

What books have you been reading?  Do you ever read How-to books?

Look for an interview on Write Wednesday, and another great beginning on First Line Friday.

Keep reading!

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